World

China warns Trump against economic isolationism

Chinese state media has warned the U.S. president-elect against isolationism and interventionism, calling instead for the United States to actively work with China to maintain the international status quo.

Chinese media editorials also hit on familiar theme of U.S. military interventionism

A man is reflected on a glass as he reads a Chinese newspaper with a photo of U.S. pesident-elect Donald Trump, displayed on a newspaper board in Beijing on Thursday. (Andy Wong/The Associated Press)

Chinese state media has warned the U.S. president-elect against isolationism and interventionism, calling instead for the United States to actively work with China to maintain the international status quo.

President-elect Donald Trump threatened to tear up trade deals and pursue a more unilateral foreign policy under his "America First" principle during a tempestuous election campaign.

But China and other foreign governments are uncertain how much of Trump's rhetoric will be translated into policy because he has at times made contradictory statements and provided few details of how he would deal with the world.

Trump often targeted China in the campaign, blaming Beijing for U.S. job losses and vowing to impose 45 per cent tariffs on Chinese imports. The Republican also promised to call China a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

U.S. isolationist policies had "accelerated the country's economic crisis" during the Great Depression, warned a commentary by China's official Xinhua News Agency, though it added that "election talk is just election talk".

The commentary also cautioned against any tilt towards intervention.

'Build a new model of power relations'

The Chinese media in the past have criticized the United States and other Western powers for intervening in Afghanistan and Iraq and meddling in international hot spots such as Ukraine.

"History has proven that U.S. overseas military interventionism causes them to pay disastrous political and economic costs," the commentary said.

Hillary Clinton was widely seen in China as the more hawkish of the two candidates, while some Chinese commentators saw Trump as a potential pragmatist on foreign policy.

A monkey wearing a shirt that says 'king of predictions' holds a card which reads 'elected' between cardboard cutouts of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Nov. 3 in Changsha, Hunan Province. (REUTERS)

But Beijing fears the unpredictability of a Trump presidency as it seeks to maintain an equilibrium in Sino-U.S. relations while dealing with the daunting tasks of a reform agenda to combat a slowing economy at home.

A second Xinhua commentary published on Thursday morning said the new U.S. president and China should "jointly build a new model of major power relations."

That echoes the position of Chinese President Xi Jinping that says global powers should work to accommodate, not contain, a rising China in the international system.

Election popular search subject

Trump's victory was watched closely on the Chinese internet with the tag "Trump has won" becoming the most-searched term on Weibo, a popular Chinese microblog service, on Wednesday afternoon in Asia, well before the race was conceded.

Some of the posts agreed that Trump might be just the change agent the United States needs now.

"The U.S. has chosen indeterminacy in order to create change," according to a post by Tsinghua University professor Sun Liping on Thursday that has been shared over a thousand times.

"When the usual, determined method has already been unable to solve the problems, then you need the shock of heresy instead."

Chinese state media had previously said the U.S. election process reflects a troubled political system, and showed an increasingly divided, disillusioned and indignant U.S. citizenry.

"This election has also made clear that the U.S. political system is already caught in a predicament," a third Xinhua commentary said. "As for when it will exit this predicament, the answer is still unknown."

The Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling party's People's Daily newspaper, said Trump's victory had "dealt a heavy blow to the heart of U.S. politics" but that he would be unable to make many changes in U.S. foreign policy.

"In an elite-controlled U.S., most of those holding power don't support Trump. And U.S. allies across the world will pressure Washington to restrain Trump from isolationism," it said.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong's leader congratulated Donald Trump on his U.S. election victory.

In a statement, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, like Trump a wealthy leader with a background in real estate, says the government of the semiautonomous southern Chinese financial hub "looks forward to further deepening our links with the U.S."

In Leung's words, "Hong Kong and the U.S. enjoy close economic and trade ties, the two places have also established close connections in various areas such as education, innovation, culture and tourism."

South Korea

Yonhap news agency cites unidentified diplomatic officials in reporting discussions Trump had in a 10-minute telephone conversation with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Yonhap says Trump told her that he agrees "100 per cent" in hoping the two allies will further bolster their ties.

Park's office confirms Park and Trump talked by phone but hasn't provided specifics on their conversation.

There have been worries in South Korea that a Trump presidency could bring a major shift in U.S. economic and diplomatic ties with Seoul. Trump has questioned the value of the U.S.-South Korea security alliance.

Australia

Australia's prime minister says he spoke with Donald Trump over the telephone and the U.S. president-elect agrees on the importance of the U.S. military alliance with Australia and the importance of the U.S. military presence to the security of the Asia-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Trump "appreciates, honors" and "admires" the 65-year-old bilateral defense pact that requires the security partners to consult if either comes under attack but does not commit them to come to the other's defense.

Turnbull would not say whether Trump plans to continue to increase the U.S. military buildup in Australia. He described their talk as "warm" and "very frank."

now